“Faulty, Okay?!” should feel like a major milestone for Insecure’s romantic narrative. At long last, Issa Dee has managed to communicate with a man she likes and start a relationship. Nathan may not come with Lawrence-sized baggage, but he and Issa do have their problems. Nathan has a long history of disappearing. Issa doesn’t really know what she wants when it comes to a romantic partner and the only future we’ve seen her envision involves Lawrence. Still, these two (mostly) work it out and come back together as another earthquake rocks Los Angeles.
And, well, I wish I cared, honestly! It’s great that this episode provides clarity around Nathan’s past mental health issues, but at this stage in Insecure’s final season, it doesn’t reveal much that we don’t already know about Nathan. Issa throws a few concerned glances towards the situation, but this reunion hardly feels like the earth-shattering romance it should seem like. Maybe that’s on purpose—Issa probably isn’t finding her fairytale ending in episode four. It’s hard to feel particularly moved by the A-plot provided by “Faulty, Okay?!” when it feels so emotionally temporary.
Instead, the best moments are tucked away in the episode’s corners with Kelli and Quoia, Issa’s assistant. Insecure fans have begged for a Kelli-centered episode from the moment she was introduced as a character. Played by the hilarious, gorgeous, charming, and absolutely crush-inducing Natasha Rothwell, this isn’t a surprise. Rothwell has turned the scraps of Kelli’s story into one of the show’s most interesting narratives. She also has the talent to take the character to a deeper place, but Kelli still hasn’t been given anything as interesting as Tiffany’s postpartum depression or Nathan’s bipolar disorder.
In this season’s premiere episode, “Reunited, Okay?!,” Kelli finds out she’s been “killed” by her alma mater and it’s mostly played for laughs. She is allowed one outburst, but everyone shakes it off and continues to treat her as the funny friend. In “Faulty, Okay?!,” we see that Kelli is still dealing with the emotional impact of being labeled dead. She stopped drinking and is looking for enlightenment. The episode’s first earthquake sets off a chain of events that introduces some understandable forced intimacy into the proceedings. Suddenly, everyone is worried about “The Big One” and surviving their second tsunami.
Kelli bonds with Resha, Nathan’s co-worker, and it’s through their conversation that Kelli is allowed some emotional gravity. The thing is, we don’t really get to see it. Resha and Kelli have a hilarious secondary conversation, but Nathan and his relatives pull focus. It would’ve been great to see Resha and Kelli bond over the events of the day, but the dynamic is still treated like a joke. Molly and Issa understand that it’s just Kelli being Kelli, but it’s the first time this side of Kelli has been introduced to the audience. Brittney Ayona Clemons and Rothwell are so engaging they beg the camera to follow them, but Nathan dominates with a meandering B-plot.
Kendrick Sampson takes Nathan to a place where his pain is understandable, but what new insight does this provide into who Nathan is? It makes it seem like his desire to get in a relationship with Issa is really just motivated by a need to prove that he’s not flaky. Though Issa may have the same reasons for clinging to their relationship, this only shows why this reunion is probably temporary. She wants to prove that she’s not all over the place and Nathan was a big part of her realizing her career goals. Even the conflict between Crenshawn, Issa, and Quoia feels more interesting than what happens with Nathan and most of that takes place on Twitter.
I noted in “Growth, Okay?!” that how Issa dealt with the Crenshawn situation would be indicative of how much she’s really changed since season one. would be indicative of how much she’s really changed since season one. That story pays off here with Crenshawn publicly calling Issa out for her behavior. Issa tries to ignore it and says some classist stuff about not listening to someone who went to Scared Straight for high school. At the same time, she calls Crenshawn out for being born in the Valley. Issa is both threatened by Crenshawn’s legitimacy and the idea that she’s selling out by being on salary now. Molly might be able to navigate Issa through the awkwardness of her relationship with Nathan, but Issa doesn’t ask for help when it comes to work and immediately makes things worse.
Most Insecure viewers are either Team Lawrence or Team Nathan, but frankly, I want Issa to find someone new. If Crenshawn can’t be Issa’s new boy toy, it’s good enough seeing him as her potential enemy. Issa being called out by the very community she’s been trying to help since season one is interesting new territory for Insecure. Nathan still feels like a rebound and because we didn’t see Issa mourn Lawrence in the year after they broke up, her feelings for him still feel unresolved. The real consequences looming over Issa are centered around her career. That’s quickly becoming the more interesting dynamic; not the Nathan-or-Lawrence of it all.
- There’s so much beauty in capturing the “Quick Drunk Friends At A Party” dynamic and Kelli and Resha do it so well! Kelli isn’t drinking, but the earthquake gets her to open up. It could’ve been a great opportunity to see Kelli through Resha’s perspective. I want to know how Kelli is perceived outside of the group by someone who takes her seriously. Let me see this Super Soul Sunday episode!
- This season has hit a great comedic tone, but some of this week’s dialogue felt a bit Twitter-heavy. From the earthquake to Issa not knowing how to play spades to the line about frolicking, it felt like a few too many references to The Timeline. Maybe it’s just mirroring Issa getting pulled into her own Twitter drama this episode?
- I’m glad Nathan talked to his cousin, but I would’ve preferred to see Jason Derulo do close-up magic.
- Molly has a C-plot about finding some dick. She isn’t concerned about rushing into a relationship, which is great. However, it also means lines like “That’s the Chinese symbol for good dick” might work on her?
- “That’s just regular Aveeno” made me laugh so hard.
- I have an Insecure final season wishlist and one of the items is “a character goes gay.” Kelli offering to help Molly on her sexual journey definitely counts. Maybe Kelli and Resha connect in a deeper way??
- “There was an earthquake.” “What does that have to do with your hands?” Also very funny and I agree: Get it together, Nathan.
- Molly asking Resha point blank about Nathan is what best friends are for.